Dorsal penile nerve block for male pediatric circumcision—randomized comparison of ultrasound-guided vs anatomical landmark technique

Michael J O'Sullivan, Branislav Mislovic, Elise Alexander
Paediatric Anaesthesia 2011, 21 (12): 1214-8

BACKGROUND: Dorsal penile nerve block (DPNB) is a commonly performed regional anesthetic technique for male circumcision. Traditionally, DPNB is based on an anatomical landmark technique. Recently, an ultrasound-guided technique for DPNB has been described.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of our study was to compare the anatomical landmark technique with this ultrasound-guided technique. The hypothesis to be tested was that ultrasound guidance of DPNB would lead to less administration of opioid when compared to the anatomical landmark technique.

METHODS: Boys of ASA status I/II scheduled for day case circumcision were prospectively recruited and randomized. DPNB was performed under general anesthesia using the anatomical landmark technique or ultrasound guidance. Fentanyl was administered intraoperatively and immediately postoperatively if patients demonstrated signs of pain. Similarly, oral codeine was given prior to discharge if required. The primary outcome measure was the number of patients requiring fentanyl. Secondary outcome measures included initial pain score on emergence from general anesthesia, requirement for codeine predischarge, and time to perform block.

RESULTS: A total of 32 patients were recruited to the landmark group and 34 to the ultrasound group. There was no significant difference between the two groups in terms of fentanyl administration. The ultrasound technique took longer to perform but was associated with a reduction in codeine requirement prior to discharge.

CONCLUSIONS: This study does not support the routine use of ultrasound for the performance of DPNB in male pediatric circumcision. Nonetheless, an associated reduction in codeine administration postoperatively suggests some benefit in terms of postoperative pain.

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